The Psalms I. Intro to the Psalms A. Over the past 3000 years, righteous men and women have loved the Psalms as well as or better than any human literature ever written. We return again and again to these beloved stanzas because 1. The bring comfort in our times of anguish – In President Bush‟s televised address to the nation on Wednesday evening, he quoted Ps 23:4 in the text of his remarks. 2. They give voice to our deepest feelings and emotions of our hearts – both our highs and lows, our joys and our frustrations 3. They put words to the songs of our hearts – those songs of faith in Christ and of love for God B. These inspired songs are also rich in theology. I think it was Luther who called them “The Bible in miniature.” What better way is there to learn about God than to read the Psalms. They tell us who He is, what He‟s like, how He functions. And because they are theologically rich, they are also ethically rich – addressing good and evil, right and wrong, and God‟s judgments upon all our behavior. C. Word about organization 1. Your guess is as good as mine – sometimes the rhyme and reason of the Psalms is hard to discern. Smarter men than us have puzzled over the structure of the psalms 2. There are five books. (1-41), (42-72), (73-89), (90-106), (107-150). But there is no obvious rationale for these books. Some suggestion they are collections of psalms that were finally bound and published together. Others suggest that they mirror the five books of Moses. 3. Collections w/in collections – i.e. the Psalms of Ascents 120-134 or the Songs of Asaph 73-83 4. Types of Psalms Messianic Ps 22 Praise Ps 100 Confession Ps 32 Historical Ps 105-106 Lamentation Ps 60 Imprecatory Ps 69 Credal Ps 145 Wisdom for life Pss 90, 91,92 D. NT Appreciation 1. Writers constantly quoting Psalms 2. Jesus‟ familiarity with the Psalms Mt 27:46 on the cross quotes Ps 22:1 3. Explicit command to use the Psalms in worship – Col 3:16 E. Literary Structure 1. We need to have an eye to appreciating the literary beauties of the Psalms 2. Heavy use of Hebrew parallelisms – poetic devises employed deliberately Synonymous parallelism – two statements of same idea, or restatement of original idea Antithetical parallelism – second line expresses same idea in negative or contrasting manner Synthetic parallelism – Second line furthers the thought rather than just repeating it Chiastic structure A B C C B A Psalm 1 Psalm 2 – Christ Contra Mundum 1) What type of Psalm is this? 2) How many stanzas do we find? 3) Who or what is the subject of the first stanza? 4) What are they doing (actions)? 5) What do they say? 6) What do we learn about the men of the world from this stanza? 7) Who is the subject of the second stanza? 8) What actions is He taking? 9) What does He say? 10) What do we learn about God from this? 11) How do stanzas 1 & 2 compare? Contrast? 12) Who is the subject of the third stanza? 13) What do we learn about the Messiah from this? 14) What does the Messiah receive? What will He do? 15) What is the tone of the final stanza? To whom is it directed? (cf v.2) 16) What is the ―bottom line‖ of this stanza (and of the whole Psalm)? 17) How does it end? 18) What ―movement‖ do we see in this Psalm? 19) What emotional changes take places through this Psalm? Sermon on Psalm 2 -- handout Psalm 22 Structural Considerations: 1-10 Cry for Help 1-2 Cry to ―My God‖ 3-5 Reflecting on God‘s holiness 6-8 Reflecting on his condition 9-10 Past relation to ―my God‖ 11-18 Immanent danger 11-13 Surrounded by strong bulls of Bashan 14-15 ―My sufferings‖ 16-18 Surrounded by dogs 19-31 God’s deliverance 19-21 Renewed cry for deliverance 22-24 Praising God for deliverance 25-28 Worldwide praise for God‘s rule 29-31 Worldwide service to God “After the introductory strophe of two verses, there come seven strophes, of which three contain three verses each (vv.3-11) followed by two of two verses each (v.12-15) and these again by two with 3 verses each. Can a soul agitated as this singer‟s was regulate its sobs thus? Yes, if it is a singer‟s and still more if it is a saint‟s. The fetters make the limbs move less violently, and there is soothing in the ordered expression of disordered emotion. The form is artistic, not artificial; and objections to the reality of the feelings on the ground of the regularity of the form ignore the witness of the masterpieces of literature in all tongues.” (Alexander McClaren, An Exposition of the Bible: Psalms; p.62) 1. What is the opening question posed? 2. What is the “dilemma” faced in vv.2-5? 3. How is the focus changed in v 6ff? 4. Is the “dilemma” solved by v.10? 5. What does the singer undergo in vv.11-18? 6. What does he do in light of these sufferings in vv.19-21? 7. What is the tone of the third major section, esp v.22 ff? 8. What does God do for the singer? 9. How does the singer respond to God‟s deliverance? 10. What outcome does he foresee? 11. What is the flow of the text? What conceptual movement do you see? How does the tone change? 12. Look at the prophecies/fulfillment chart. Psalms 110 & 72 The World-wide Reign of King Jesus In looking at these Psalms tonight I want especially to focus on the Messianic message and its import Psalm 110 1. The Psalm has two stanzas – vv.1-3 and vv.4-7. How do both stanzas start? 2. Who is this Psalm talking about? How do we know that? Cf 110:1 and Matt 22:41-45; 110:4 and Heb 5:5-6,10 3. What office does the first stanza focus on? What is the chief function of that office? 4. What office does the second stanza focus on? 5. What kind of priest is this? What is his main function? 6. What will this royal priest accomplish? 7. Who is on the ―receiving end‖ of these accomplishments? 8. How would you describe the tone of this Psalm? Psalm 72 1. This Psalm speaks again about the rule of the Messiah. What are some of the actions of the Messianic King? 2. What kinds of people are on the ―receiving end‖ of these actions? 3. How do people respond to the King‘s actions? 4. Where does the Messiah reign? What are the boundaries of his kingdom? 5. How long will Messiah reign? 6. What is the ―final result‖ or ―bottom line‖ in vv.18-19? 7. What is the tone of this Psalm? How does it differ from Ps 110? Some Concluding Observations: 1. Both of these Psalms give us strong confidence concerning the future prospects of Christ‘s kingdom. Because of who Christ is, and because of what these and other Scriptures say about His kingly rule, we have every reason to be hopeful in the Lord. 2. These things are destined to play out in history, not in heaven after the final judgment. In history Jesus has enemies over whom he rules. In history you have ―the poor, the needy, the afflicted and the oppressed‖ needing and receiving help from King Jesus. 3. These truths abide no matter what shows up on the front page of tomorrow‘s newspaper. We ought not let the fallible human ―news‖ overthrow the good ―news‖ of the gospel. Our confidence is not in the improving conditions of modern society, or in the spread of democracy and capitalism, or even in a booming stock market, but instead in the unchanging and unchangeable truth of the Word of God. 4. While these Psalms don‘t explicitly teach one eschatological scheme or another, they are certainly optimistic in expectation. This optimism is not found in premillenialist thinking, and even most amillenialists tend to be pessimistic. Only postmils are consistently optimistic. Theological Gleanings from Psalm 145 Structure: 1) It is an acrostic – meant for poetic beauty and for memorization 2) MacClaren: 1-6 Greatness; 7-10 Goodness; 11-13 Kingdom; 14-21 Universal Beneficence 3) Spurgeon: 1-7 Greatness; 8-10 Goodness; 11-13 Kingdom; 14-16 Providence; 17-21 Saving Mercy Attributes of God v.1 He is a personal being, who can be addressed using personal pronouns v.1 He is worthy of ―extolling‖, ―blessing‖ -- worship – forever and ever (v.10) v.2 He is worthy of daily blessing and praise v.1 He is “my” God – Covenant reference there v.1 He is a King (v.5 He is splendidly majestic; v.11-13 His kingdom is glorious, everlasting, majestic) v.3 He is great – His greatness is unsearchable (echoed in v.6b) v.4 He is a doer of mighty acts and wonderful works (v.5) v.4 He endures throughout the generations, as does His fame v.6 He is powerful in performing His awesome acts (v.11b) v.7 He shows abundant goodness which is memorable v.9 He is good to all v.7 He has and demonstrates righteousness which inspires shouts of joy, v.17a righteous in all his ways v.8 He is gracious and merciful (v.9b merciful to all His works) v.8 He is slow to anger and great in lovingkindness v.14 He sustains all who fall, raising up those bowed down v.15-16 He provides food to all, satisfying all v.17b He is kind in all his deeds v.18 He is near to all who call upon Him in truth (Immanence) v.19 He hears, answers, saves – a faithful Savior v.20 He keeps all who love Him v.20b He justly destroys the wicked v.21b He is Holy Greatness: A comparative term signifying either quantitative or qualitative superiority – meaning largeness, vastness, supremacy, grandeur, magnificence, highness, importance, significance, excellence. Ver. 3. Great is the Lord. If "great" here be referred to God as a king, then a great king he is in respect of the breadth of his empire, for all creatures, from the highest angel to the poorest worm, are under him. "Great" for length; for "his kingdom is an everlasting kingdom." "Great" for depth; for he rules even in the hearts of kings, of all men, over rules their thoughts, affections, nothing is hid from him. And "great" again for height; being "a great King above all gods", ruling by his own absolute power and authority; whereas all other kings have their sword from him, and rule by a delegated and vicarious power. —William Nicholson. Goodness contains many moral and nonmoral nuances, such as pleasant, fitting, appropriate, abundant, free from defects, unobjectionable in every respect, morally upright, the opposite of evil, kind, benevolent, affectionate, kind. Do not stop the joyful speakers, let them go on for ever. They do not exaggerate, they cannot. You say they are enthusiastic, but they are not half up to the pitch yet; bid them become more excited and speak yet more fervently. Go on, brother, go on; pile it up; say something greater, grander, and more fiery still I You cannot exceed the truth. You have come to a theme where your most fluent powers will fail in utterance. The text calls for a sacred fluency, and I would exhort you liberally to exercise it when you are speaking on the goodness of God. —C. H. S. Gracious, Merciful, Slow to Anger, Abounding in Love This is God‘s own description of himself in Exodus 34:6 The first two have been distinguished by some as two aspects of God‘s lovingkindness – Grace is God‘s giving us what we don‘t deserve, Mercy is God‘s not giving us what we do deserve. The last two are connected also – the comparison between his slowness to anger (not absence of anger) and the fullness and richness of his love While he is very slow to chide, he is swift to bless. While he gives a small portion of wrath, he gives a heaping portion of blessing. Kingdom – glory, splendor, honor, majesty Power, Might Omnipotence, the ability to do whatsoever He wishes and wills. Righteous – Active and Relational, keeping to the revealed will of God, Consistent with His own character, Just Holy – set apart, perfectly morally spotless, without flaw or fault or stain of sin. Blazing purity. Psalms of Thanksgiving Q: What is the difference between Adoration and Thanksgiving? Reasons for our Thanksgiving: Ps 7:17 I will give thanks to the LORD because of His righteousness And will sing praise to the name of the LORD Most High. Ps 119:62 At midnight I shall rise to give thanks to You Because of Your righteous ordinances. Ps 107:8 Let them give thanks to the LORD for His lovingkindness, And for His wonders to the sons of men! (cf. 107:15,21,31) Quality of our Thanksgiving: Ps 28:7 The LORD is my strength and my shield; My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart exults[leaps for joy], And with my song I shall thank Him. Ps 100:1 SHOUT joyfully to the LORD, all the earth. 2 Serve the LORD with gladness; Come before Him with joyful singing. 3 Know that the LORD Himself is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. 4 Enter His gates with thanksgiving And His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name. 5 For the LORD is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting And His faithfulness to all generations. Audience for our Thanksgiving: Ps 118:28 You are my God, and I give thanks to You; You are my God, I extol You. Ps 35:18 I will give You thanks in the great congregation; I will praise You among a mighty throng. Ps 105:1 OH give thanks to the LORD, call upon His name; Make known His deeds among the nations. Substance of our Thanksgiving: Ps 136 For what are we to be thankful to God? I am thankful for… vv.1-3 vv.4-9 vv.10-12 vv.13-15 vv.16-22 vv.23-26 vv.1b-26b ds,j, Strong‟s: mercy 149, kindness 40, lovingkindness 30, goodness 12, kindly 5, merciful 4, favour 3, good 1, goodliness 1, pity 1, reproach 1, wicked thing 1; 248 1) goodness, kindness, faithfulness Theo Wordbook of Old Test: Loyalty to Covenantal obligations, Covenant faithfulness, fidelity, lovingkindness Psalm 104 – Creation Song Intro: We‘ve been focusing the last 2 Lord‘s Days on Praise and Thanksgiving to God for who He is and what He‘s done. Last week, in Ps 136, we gave thanks for Creation and Redemption, among other things. I want to focus on Creation Psalms tonight to further promote adoration and thanksgiving. Our Main Focus will be on Ps 104, although that is certain not the only Creation Psalm in the Psalter. Read Ps 104 1. What is your initial reaction to this Psalm? What stands out at first reading? 2. What are some of the verbs employed in this Psalm? Who is doing those actions? What does this tell us about the Psalm? About God? 3. What is the flow or progression of ideas in this Psalm? vv.1-4 Foundation laying vv.5-9 Making the earth habitable vv.10-13 Provision for animal life -- water vv.14-18 Provision for animals and man – food, refuge, joy vv.19-23 The celestial bodies – Moon, Sun, rhythm of life vv.24-26 Earth‘s fullness gives glory to God, esp. the Sea vv.27-30 God‘s hand feeding, sustaining life vv.31-35 God‘s glory manifested and praised by men 4. How does this correspond to the creation days of Genesis 1? Day 1 … Light, creating time v.2; 20-23 Day 2 … Making sky, establishing ―the firmament‖ v.2b-3 Day 3 … separating water & dry land, vegetation, fruit trees v.5-9,14,16 Day 4 … Sun, moon, stars v.19-20 Day 5 … Fish, sea creatures, birds v.25-26; 12,17 Day 6 … animals, livestock, man v.11,18,23 Day 7 … Rest, enjoyment of creation v.31 5. What does God do in addition to creating all things of nothing, in the space of six days, and all very good? What does this teach us about God? Man? Life as we know it? 6. What does this Psalm teach us about God‘s relationship to His creation? Not Deistic – Immanence and Transcendence 7. What responses should God‘s creative activity and this Psalm evoke from men? (vv.32-35) Outline of Psalm 33 vv.1-3 Worship/Praise Response vv.4-5 Character of God‘s Providence word is upright works are faithfulness Righteousness, Justice, Earth is full of His Lovingkindness (ds,j,Loyalty to Covenantal obligations, Covenant faithfulness, fidelity, lovingkindness) Not only material creation, but providential actions vv.6-9 Creation considered Making the heavens & their hosts with the breath/word of mouth Gathers waters together as a heap, lays up deeps in storehouses (This is an act still continued, and affording a perpetual evidence of God‘s almighty power, which is just as necessary now as on the first day of creation, to prevent the earth from being totally submerged. – As a heap – dealing with fluids as if they were solids, with an obvious allusion to Exod 15. See also Joshua 3. The main point of the description is God‘s handling these vast liquid masses, as men handle substances of moderate dimensions, heaping the waves up and storing them away, as men might do with stones or wheat. J.A. Alexander‘s Commentary on Psalms) Continuity – he commanded and it stood fast. Response – v.8 Let all the earth fear the Lord, the inhabitants of world stand in awe of Him. vv.10-12 God‘s Providential Plan for the Nations First for the wicked nations of the earth, then for the nation whose God is the Lord. They are frustrated and thwarted, we are happy and prosperous. v.11 From the original creation the psalmist‘s mind runs over the ages between it and him, and sees the same mystical might of the Divine will working in what we call providential government. God‘s bare word has power without material means. Nay, His very thoughts unspoken are endowed with immortal vigour, and are at bottom the only real powers in history. God‘s ―thoughts stand‖ as creation does, lasting on through all men‘s fleeting years. With reverential boldness the psalm parallels the processes (if we may so speak) of the divine mind with those of the human; ―counsel‖ and ―thoughts‖ being attributed to both. But how different the issue of the solemn thoughts of God and those of men, in so far as they are not in accordance with His! (Alexander McClaren commenting on Ps 33) vv.13-17 The Lord‘s eye on the inhabitants of the earth He watches them with understanding, knowing the futility of their designs. They have no hope of victory or deliverance. His eye is one of critical evaluation and judgment upon their depravity vv.18-22 The Lord‘s eye on the righteous He looks upon us with lovingkindness, (ds,j,Loyalty to Covenantal obligations, Covenant faithfulness, fidelity, lovingkindness) Deliverance, sustenance, help, shield, joy, hope rejoicing. His lovingkindness is upon us The true reason for the blessedness of the chosen people is that God‘s eye is on them, not merely with cold omniscience nor with critical considering of their works, but with the direct purpose of sheltering them from surrounding evil. McClaren Psalm 8 – The Interwoven Knowledge of God and Man INSTITUTES: BOOK ONE The Knowledge of God the Creator CHAPTER 1 THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD AND THAT OF OURSELVES ARE CONNECTED. HOW THEY ARE INTERRELATED 1. WITHOUT KNOWLEDGE OF SELF THERE IS NO KNOWLEDGE OF GOD Nearly all the wisdom we possess, that is to say, true and sound wisdom, consists of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves. But, while joined by many bonds, which one precedes and brings forth the other is not easy to discern. In the first place, no one can look upon himself without immediately turning his thoughts to the contemplation of God, in whom he “lives and moves” Knowledge of God and Man in Ps. 8 v.1 He is ―Yahweh‖ – Jehovah – the Lord of the Covenant v.1 He is ―Adonai‖ – our Lord – our Sovereign Covenant God v.1 He is both immanent (His name is majestic in all the earth) and transcendant (His glory is above the heavens) v.1 His glory is everywhere displayed – in the heavens, upon the earth – all creation sings thy glory v.2 He is sovereign over all things, esp. over man – over babes & over adversaries; He uses babes to thwart the enemy McClaren: v.2 “strength” “The word here means “strength in the old use of the term – that is, a stronghold or fortress – and the image, somewhat more daring than colder Western taste finds permissible, is that, out of such frail material as children‟s speech, God builds a tower of strength which, like some border castle, will bridle and still the restless enemy. There seems no sufficient reason for taking „children and sucklings‟ in any but its natural meaning, however the reference to lowly believers may accord with the spirit of the psalm. The children‟s voices are taken as a type of feeble instruments, which are yet strong enough to silence the enemy… God‟s strongest fortress is built of weakest stones… v.3 He is Creator and Lord of all things visible and physical– heavens, moon, stars McClaren: v.3-8 “The nightly sky is more overwhelming than the bare blue vault of day. Light conceals and darkness unveils the solemn glories. The silent depths, the inaccessible splendours, spoke to this psalmist, as they do to all sensitive souls, of man‟s relative insignificance, but they spoke also of the God whose hand fashioned them, and the thought of Him carried with it the assurance of His care for so small a creature, and therefore changed the aspect of his insignificance… Think of star-gazing – in your own experience? In the Scriptures? (Abraham; Kings of East) v.4 He is Creator and Lord of Man McClaren: v.4 The psalmist gives full weight to man‟s smallness, his frailty, and to his lowly origin, for his exclamation, „What is man?‟ means „How little is he!‟ and he uses the words which connote frailty and mortality, and emphasize the fact of birth as if in contrast with „the work of Thy fingers‟; but all these points only enhance the wonderfulness of what is to the poet an axiom – that God ahs personal relations with His creature. God considers, cares for man, who is made ―a little lower than God‖ – in God‘s image God crowns man w/ glory and majesty God appoints man ruler over the works of God‘s hands God puts all things under man‘s feet – dominion mandate, Adamic/Noahic Covenant v.9 (cf.v.1) God is object of adoration, awe, wonder, love, respect, worship Kuyper‘s Basic Worldview Triangle: God <-> Man God <-> World Man <-> Life on earth is Short, Sad and Hard Ps 90 This triad of Psalms – 90, 91 & 92 – deals with the journey of human experience. Ps 90 wrestles with the difficulty of living under God‘s wrath and curse due to us for sin. Ps 91 teaches us to trust the Lord in the midst of living life, and Ps 92 brings us to the Sabbath rest, where we learn to worship and serve God aright. Ps 90 – Reality in a fallen creation. Life in a cursed and fallen world is short, sad and hard. In what ways is life hard? In what respects is life sad? How do we see the brevity of life? Let‘s look at Ps 90 in some depth 1. What do vv.1-2 tell us about God? 2. What do vv.3-6 tell us about man? Spurgeon on man‘s frailty: Here is the history of the grass – sown, grown, blown, mown, gone; and the history of man is not much more. 3. How do these two descriptions compare? How does our knowledge of God and our knowledge of man interrelate? 4. Why is man‘s existence so transitory? (v.3; cf. Gen 3:19) 5. What additional factor is introduced in vv.7ff? 6. Who wrote this? When would this be written (generally speaking)? How would that influence his perspective? 7. After moaning under the difficulty of God‘s wrath and curse, what does Moses ask for in v.12? McClaren: Plainly, then, things being so, man‘s wisdom is to seek to know two things – the power of God‘s anger and the measure of his own days… The Psalmist prays for himself and his people, as knowing the temptations to inconsiderate disregard and to inadequate feeling of God‘s opposition to sin, that His power would take untaught hearts in hand and teach them this – to count their days. Then we shall bring home, as from a ripened harvest field, the best fruit which life can yield, ‗a heart of wisdom‘, which, having learned the power of God‘s anger, and the number of our days, turns itself to the eternal dwelling-place, and no more is sad, when it sees life ebbing away, or the generations moving in unbroken succession into the darkness. 8. How is this prayer expanded in vv.13-17? What is Moses asking for? McClaren: The deepest longing of the devout heart should be for the manifestation to itself and others of God‘s work. The psalmist is not only asking that God would put forth His acts in interposition for himself and his fellow servants, but also that the full glory of these far-reaching deeds may be disclosed to their understandings as well as experienced in their lives. And since he knows that ‗through the ages an increasing purpose runs,‘ he prays that coming generations may see even more glorious displays of Divine power than his contemporaries have done. How the sadness of the thought of fleeting generations succeeded by new ones vanishes when we think of them all as, in turn, spectators and possessors of God‘s ‗work‘! But in that great work we are not to be mere spectators. Fleeting as our days are, they are ennobled by our being permitted to be God‘s tools; and if ‗the work of our hands‘ is the reflex or carrying on of His working, we can confidently ask that, though we the workers may pass, it may be ‗established‘. Learning to Trust God in Life Ps 91 Remember that Psalms 90, 91 & 92 seem to go together – there is a progression through these three. Ps 90 told of the difficulties of living life in a sin-filled and fallen world. Ps 91 moves on from despair to trust – learning how to trust God in real-time. There are also common themes running throughout this triad. One such theme is that God is our ―dwelling place.‖ We see it in 90:1, 91:9 (same word) and it is implied clearly in 92:13. Read Psalm 91 Structure No consensus on structure – some suggest a two-fold division based on the statements of faith in vv.2, 9 Spurgeon suggests 1-2 The state of the godly; 3-8 their safety; 9-10 their habitation; 11-13 their servants; 14-16 their Friend, w/ effects of them all. McClaren makes an interesting suggestion – that this is meant to be antiphonal reading, or even a choral work. Following the pronouns (1st, 2nd, 3rd Person), I‘ve constructed the following ―script‖ of this psalm Narrator: v.1 (3rd) Believer: v.2 (1st) Narrator: v.3-4 (3rd) Chorus: v.5-13 (2nd) God: v.14-16 (1st) One of the notable features is the rich use of metaphor: v.1 shelter, shadow; v.2 refuge, fortress; v.3 trapper‘s snare; v.4 eagle, shield, bulwark; v.5 night terror, arrows; v.6 pestilence, destruction; v.9 refuge, dwelling place; v.10 tent; v.13 lion, cobra, young lion, serpent. 1. How does the Psalmist describe the relationship between God and the believer in vv.1-2? 2. What does God do for the believer in vv.3-4? Note the comparison between the destructive intentions of the trapper and the deliverances and protections of the Lord. 3. What sorts of things will seek to destroy the believer in vv.5-8? Note contrast between the open and secret foes. McClaren: ―The central idea of vv.3-8 is safety, guaranteed from two classes of dangers – those from enemies, both open and secret, and those from diseases, both open and secret.‖ 4. How will the believer react and respond to open and secret dangers? ―Hinderances are good for us. Smooth paths weary, and make presumptuous. Rough ones bring out our best and drive us to look to God.‖ McClaren. ―Active life is full of open and secret foes, as well as of difficulties. He that keeps near to God will pass unharmed through them all, and with a foot made strong and firm by God‘s own power infused into it will be able to crush the life out of the most formidable and most sly assailants. ‗The God of peace shall crush Satan under your feet shortly.‖ 5. How did the devil pervert this verse when he tempted Jesus in the wilderness? 6. What promises does God give in vv.10ff to the trusting believer? 7. What should a trusting believer expect to experience in his life, according to vv.14-16. The Pinnacle of the Christian Life Psalm 92 Remembering this triad of wisdom Psalms 1. Ps 90 – Life is short, sad and hard – due to God‘s curse on sin, due to our own sinful deeds 2. Ps 91 – Learning to trust the Lord. When faced with dangers both open and secret, when threatened by enemies and by disease, we can be confident that the Lord is now and will ever protect our lives. Indeed, he will enable us to trample down the lion and the serpent. Those who trust the Lord live charmed lives, being honored by the Almighty. 3. Having coped with the realities of life in a sin cursed world, and having learned to trust the Lord in the midst of danger, we now press on to the pinnacle of the Christian life – what we find in Ps. 92 Scaling the Summit of the Christian Life 1. How does this Psalm start? What does this tell us? 2. What are some things we typically think of doing on the Sabbath? 3. What Sabbath activity does the Psalmist highlight in vv.1-4? What does he tell us about worship? It is good We declare God‘s ―hesed‖ and faithful fidelity It involves Thanksgiving to the LordIt is appropriate morning to night It It employs skillful instrumental music involves singing praises to God‘s name It Done in attitude of joy & gladness is exalted, because God is ―Most High‖ It is reflective & thoughtful Listen to what C.H. Spurgeon says on the goodness of worshipping God… ―It is good ethically, for it is the Lord‘s right; it is good emotionally, for it is pleasant to the heart; it is good practically, for it leads others to render the same homage. When duty and pleasure combine, who will be backward? To give thanks to God is but a small return for the great benefits wherewith he daily loadeth us; yet as he by his Spirit calls it a good thing we must not despise it, or neglect it. We thank men when they oblige us, how much more ought we to bless the Lord when he benefits us. Devout praise is always good, it is never out of season, never superfluous, but it is especially suitable to the Sabbath; a Sabbath without thanksgiving is a Sabbath profaned.‖ 4. What does the worshipper focus on in vv.5-9? How does he describe the wicked man? 5. What is the central thought of this section? (hint: vv.7-8) Hear Spurgeon again… They grow to die, they blossom to be blasted. They flower for a short space to wither without end. Greatness and glory are to them but the prelude of their overthrow. Little does their opposition matter, the Lord reigns on as if they had never blasphemed him; as a mountain abides the same though the meadows at its feet bloom or wither, even so the Most High is unaffected by the fleeting mortals who dare oppose him; they shall soon vanish for ever from among the living. But as for the wicked— how can our minds endure the contemplation of their doom "for ever." Destruction "for ever" is a portion far too terrible for the mind to realise. Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, the full terror of the wrath to come! 6. How often do we think about God‘s sovereign dealings with the wicked? Is it a part of our Sabbath thinking? Does it come up in worship? Is it preached? Why is this important for us? 7. The subject changes in vv.10-15. What does this section focus upon? 8. How does the situation of the righteous man compare with that of the wicked? (echo of Ps 1) 9. What can the righteous worshiper expect in his life? What are his hallmarks? (Palm Trees I Kgs 6:29) Why Good Things Happen to Bad People Ps 73 Intro: In the past three Psalms – 90,91,92 – we‘ve traced the human experience from the depths of despair to the pinnacle of Christian joy. Although life is hard, sad, and oh-so-short, we can trust God to deliver us from every enemy. And because of this great salvation, we can worship and serve Him with exuberant confidence and unbounded jubilation. That is the big picture of the human experience. However, there are details of that picture that deserve attention – the parts of our human experience that fit together to make the whole. Tonight we want to begin delving into Biblical anthropology, and specifically Biblical psychology – the inner life of the honest believer. This is something which I believe could be of great value to each one of us, as it touches things very common to men, and very close to our personal experience. Let me start with by reading a short section from a book by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones entitled Faith Tried and Triumphant. It is a study of Psalms 37 and 73… The great value of the book of Psalms is that in it we have godly people stating their experience, and giving us an account of things that have happened to them in their spiritual life and warfare. Throughout history the book of Psalms has, therefore, been a book of great value for God's people. Again and again it provides them with the kind of comfort and teaching they need, and which they can find nowhere else. And it may well be, if one may be allowed to speculate on such a thing, that the Holy Spirit led the early church to adopt the Old Testament writings partly for that reason. What we find from the beginning to the end of the Bible is the account of God's dealings with his people. He is the same God in the Old Testament as in the New; and these Old Testament saints were citizens of the kingdom of God even as we are. We are taken into a kingdom which already contains such people as Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The mystery that was revealed to the apostles was that the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs and citizens in the kingdom with the Jews. It is right, therefore, to regard the experiences of these people as being exactly parallel with our own. The fact that they lived in the old dispensation makes no difference. There is something wrong with a Christianity which rejects the Old Testament, or even with a Christianity which imagines that we are essentially different from the Old Testament saints. If any of you are tempted to feel like that, I would invite you to read the book of Psalms, and then to ask yourself whether you can honestly say from your experience some of the things the Psalmists said… Read the Psalms and the statements made in them, and I think you will agree that these people were children of God with a great and rich spiritual experience. For this reason, it has been the practice in the Christian church from the beginning for men and women to come to the book of Psalms for light and knowledge and instruction. (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Faith Tried and Triumphant, pp73-74) I. The Psalm Itself A. Structure 1-3 Confused and Endangered 4-12 Description of prosperity of the wicked 13-16 Tempted to Deny God 17-20 Description of downfall of the wicked 21-24 Contemplating his own condition & God‘s grace 25-28 Description of security of the believer B. The Flow of the story 1. What conclusion does Asaph draw in v.1? How does He know this? 2. How does he say about his own condition in vv.2-3? There are many features about the Psalms which might detain us. The thing I want to mention especially is the very remarkable honesty with which these writers do not hesitate to tell the truth about themselves. We have a great classic example of that here in the seventy-third Psalm. This man admits very freely that as for him his feet were almost gone, his steps had well-nigh slipped. And he goes on to say that he was like a beast before God, so foolish and so ignorant. What honesty! That is the great value of the Psalms. I know of nothing in the spiritual life more discouraging than to meet the kind of person who seems to give the impression that he or she is always walking on the mountain top. That is certainly not true in the Bible. The Bible tells us that these people knew what it was to be cast down, and to be in sore and grievous trouble. Many a saint in his pilgrimage has thanked God for the honesty of the writers of the Psalms. They do not just put up an ideal teaching which was not true in their own lives. Perfectionist teachings are never true. They are not true to the experience of the people who teach them, for we know that they are fallible creatures like the rest of us. They put their teaching of perfection forward theoretic- ally, but it is not true to their experience. Thank God the Psalmists do not do that. They tell us the plain truth about themselves; they tell us the plain truth about what has happened to them. (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Faith Tried and Triumphant, p.75) 3. How does he describe the estate of the wicked in vv.4-12? What do they do? 4. What is the relationship between what Asaph professes in v. 1, and what he reports in vv.4-12? 5. In what ways do you see this dilemma in your life? What temptations does that bring about? 6. What is the psychological/spiritual impact upon him? (see v.13-14) 7. What are the inherent dangers of such thinking? (vv.15-16) 8. What is the key to understanding that Asaph discovers in v.17? Why does the sanctuary change this situation? 9. What is the ―true truth‖ about the condition of the wicked? (v.18-20?) 10. What does Asaph admit about his own condition in vv.21-24? 11. How does he close out this song of personal anguish and trial? 12. What has this struggle produced in his life? 13. What does the wisdom of this Psalm produce in your life? Honestly Facing Our Sin & God‘s Forgiveness Psalm 32 This Psalm of David closely resembles Ps 51, and may have been written about the same events in David‘s life – namely his sins with Bathsheba and against Uriah. This Psalm, like 51, is intended to instruct the Covenant community about sin and forgiveness in our own lives. Ps 32 is a Maskil – likely designating this as a didactic psalm – a teaching device. This Psalm, along with 51, were among Luther‘s favorites because they teach justification by faith apart from the law. Structure: Spurgeon: 1-2 Benediction of the pardoned; 3-5 David‘s Personal Confession; 6-7 Applying the case to others; 8-9 Voice of God heard by the forgiven one; 10-11 A portion for each of the two great classes of men. DeJong‘s modification of Spurgeon: 1-2 The Doctrine Explained; 3-5 The Doctrine Experienced; 6-7 The Doctrine Applied; 8-9 God‘s Instructions to the believer; 10-11 God‘s Instructions to all men A. The Doctrine Explained – Blessedness of Justification by faith 1. What three words describe the condition and conduct of this man? v.1a ―transgression‖ McC ‗conceives of it as rebellion against rightful authority, a breaking away from a rightful king‘ a breach in the relationship between ruler & people v.1b ―sin‖ McC ‗missing the mark, all sin tragically fails to hit the mark both in what man is intended to be & do, and in what man proposes to do. v.2 ―iniquity‖ McC ‗means crookedness or distortion – what is wrong as opposed to right – a perverting of what God intends & commands‘ 2. What three things are done for this man? v.1a ―forgiven‖ McC ‗literally taken away, lifted off, as a burden from aching shoulders. Not just the removal of penal consequences, but removal of the sin itself.‘ v.1b ―covered‖ concealed, hidden, McC ‗paints pardon as God‘s shrouding the foul thing from his pure eyes, so that his action is no longer determined by its existence.‖ v.2 ―not impute‖ A specialized form of ‗making a judgment‘ McC ‗reckon or impute – describes forgiveness as God not reckoning a man‘s sin to him, alluding to the cancellation of a debt.‘ 3. What is his new condition after God‘s three-fold solution covers the three-fold conduct? No deceit in his spirit – honest, not self-deceived or hypocritical Justified – forgiven, covered, not imputed Blessed, twice stated. Happiness, joy, emotional freedom, exhileration. 4. What does Paul say about this in Rom 4:5-8? God reckons righteousness apart from works – not only that his sin is not imputed to him,, but also that God‘s righteousness is imputed by faith alone, not by works. B. The Doctrine Experience – David‘s Personal Path 1. From vv.3-5 we learn of David‘s ordeal. What order of events can we glean from these verses? 1. Sin 5. Vitality drained away (cf 3) 2. Kept silent 6. Acknowledged sin to God, didn‘t hide 3. Body wasted away thru groaning iniquity, confessed transgression 4. God‘s hand was heavy on him 7. God forgave guilt of David‘s sin 2. What are the objective aspects of this experience? What are the subjective aspects? Objective = forgiveness of guilt of transgressor by God the Judge Subjective = internal distress, groaning, relief, release, reconciliation 3. What does David now teach the rest of humanity? What benefits does he promise to them? 4. In vv.8-9 the speaker seems to change from David to God. What does God say to the reader? 5. The reality of life in a fallen world includes sin, guilt, shame, etc. How does that reality impact the non-believer? The believer? 6. What can we conclude about the life of the believer from the closing verses, and from the psalm generally? What to do when in despair Psalm 6 There is a great myth perpetrated in the Christian community, and that is the idea that we are all happy, peaceful and contented at all times – we have no problems, no grief, no sorrow – and if we do run into times of difficulty, we pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps and gut it out. We portray ourselves as bright, happy, peppy, plastic Christians. Yet that is really not true to reality, nor is it true to the Scriptures. Even our Savior was ―a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.‖ He knew what it was to be despised and rejected, stricken, smitten and afflicted. Tonight we‘re going to look at Psalm 6 and ask the question, ―What do we do in times of despair?‖ Structure – 4 strophes, or stanzas 1-3 Cry of Desperation to the Lord 4-5 ―Save me from death‖ 6-7 Weary from weeping 8-10 Renewed confidence in the Lord Psalm 6 1. What is the overall tone or feel of this Psalm? What is your immediate gut reaction? Alexander McClaren: ―If ever the throb of personal anguish found tears and a voice, it does so in this psalm. Whoever wrote it wrote with his blood… it is a transcript of a perennial experience, a guide for a road which all feet have to travel.‖ 2. What sorrows do we face in our own lives as Christians? 3. What are the causes of the Psalmist‘s grief? v.1 Sense of God‘s displeasure v.7 all my adversaries v.2 physical difficulties v.8 evildoers around him v.3a spiritual afflictions v.10 proud plans of the enemies v.3b-4 sense of God‘s absence, slowness 4. What are the effects of that grief upon the psalmist? v.2 ‗pining away‘ v.5 expectation of impending death v.2b bones are dismayed v.6 nightly weeping (despondency) v.3a soul is greatly dismayed v.6 weariness with sighing (sleeplessness) v.3b sense of impatience with God v.7 eye wastes away, becomes old v.4 sense of abandonment, loneliness, isolation McClaren: ―All sad hearts are tempted to shut God out and to look only at their griefs There is a strange pleasure in turning round the knife in the wound and recounting the tokens of misery.‖ 5. How does the righteous man respond to such griefs? v.1 humbles himself before God v.5 Argues with God ala Ecclesiastes v.2 pleads God‘s grace & mercy v.6-7 honest admission of grief v.2b begs for healing from afflictions v.8b-9 believes promise of answered v.3 in desperation cries out, ―How long, O Lord‖ prayer v.4 Requests God‘s return & his rescue v.8a,10 Expresses renewed confidence v.4b pleads God‘s covenant lovingkindness in the Lord He then writes this psalm for the church of all ages to spur us to prayer. Philippians 4:6-7 Singing History Ps 105-106 Various types of Psalms that I want to touch on before we move on to study Proverbs. Tonight we‘re going to examine historical psalms. Next week I want to look at Imprecatory Psalms. I also want to give some attention to Psalms of Ascents and to take a look at the largest of Psalms – Ps. 119. Intro thoughts on history: Undisputably and irrefutably, the Bible is a historically oriented book. You cannot read very much of Scripture without running into a story of some prophet, priest or king. Even the New Testament is largely devoted to historical narrative rather than philosophical or theological proposition. Dr. Richard Pratt has written a book with a title that captures this truth: He Gave Us Stories. Indeed he did, and yet why? What is the reason for so much historical data to be included in the Scriptures? (1) God has chosen to convey truth in the context of narratives, (2) This shows the reality and relation of God to the human race. (3) Stories capture our attention and help us to learn better than philosophical proposition. (4) Stories bring out the rich nuances of God‘s nature, character and covenant. (5) Stories provide examples and counter-examples. Read Pss 105-106 These really come in a triplet – 104 dealing with God‘s Work of Creation, 105 dealing with God‘s Covenant Faithfulness, 106 dealing with God‘s Redemption of His Sinful People 1. Ps 105 begins with a clarion call to Christian piety. What advice do we find in vv.1-8? Give thanks Rejoice/Glory/Be glad in Him Call upon Him Seek the Lord, his strength, his face continually Make known His deeds Remember his works in history Sing Praises to Him Revel in a deep & rich Covenant theology Speak all His wonders 2. Upon what is this deep and genuine piety to be predicated? (the rest of the psalm – history) 3. What are the historical examples that he specifically cites in this Psalm? vv.9-15 The Patriarchs – Abraham, Isaac, Jacob vv.16-24 Joseph vv.25-36 Moses & Israel in Egypt vv.37-45 Moses & Israel in Exodus 4. Let‘s go through just one of these in some detail – vv.16-24 Joseph 5. Again the opening verses of Ps 106 are significant –what does this introduction say? 6. What is the thesis of the Psalm? (v.6) 7. What historical examples does the Psalmist provide to illustrate the sinfulness of the fathers? vv. 7-12 Red Sea vv. 24-27 Spies vv. 13-15 Cravings in Wilderness vv. 28-31 Baal-Peor vv. 16-18 Dathan, Abiram vv. 32-33 Meribah vv. 19-23 Golden Calf vv. 34-39 Intermingling w/ Canaanites 8. What is God‘s response to the sinfulness of his people? Vv.40-46? 9. What is the Psalmist‘s closing request? Vv.47-48 10. How does the tone of Ps 106 differ from what we saw in 105? What does this tell us about history? Imprecatory Psalms Read Ps 139:17-22 Read Ps 109:1-13 Read Ps 58, esp. v.10 & 11 These are imprecatory psalms … Imprecation: The act of invoking evil on anyone; a prayer that a curse or calamity may fall on any Imprecatory: Containing a prayer for evil to befall a person. Responses to these Psalms – most ignore them altogether, consider them as uncouth expressions of vindictiveness and violence, inappropriate for use in the church. C.S. Lewis goes so far as to call them ―diabolical‖ and ―devilish‖. Another commentator says ―these Psalms are not the oracles of God.‖ Can we, believing in the plenary inspiration of Scripture, follow any of these leads – ignoring, dismissing, demonizing or outright denying them? On the other hand, do these psalms leave you feeling entirely comfortable and contented, with lots of warm fuzzies? Recommend book: War Psalms of the Prince of Peace by James Adams Ps 83 – a brief look for some guiding principles 1. To whom is this Psalm addressed? To God, asking God to not remain silent, but to act, and deal and pursue and destroy 2. About whom is the Psalmist complaining? v.2 ―Thine enemies‖ v.6 Edomites, Ishmaelites, Moabites, Hagrites, Gebal, Ammon, Amalek, Philistia, Tyre, Assyria (traditional enemies of Israel) 3. What have God‘s enemies done? v.2 hate God, exalt themselves, make an uproar v.3-4 conspired against God‘s people v.5 made a covenant against God 4. What does the Psalmist ask God to do to them in vv.9ff? v.9 deal w/ them as w/ Midian, Sisera & Jabin at Kishon‘s brook v.11 Like Oreb and Zeeb v.11 Like Zeebah and Zalmunna 5. On what basis does he ask this? God‘s past temporal judgments in history – His track record! 6. What aspects of wrath do we find in vv.13-17 v.13 removal, judgment v.14 burning v.15 pursuit and terror v.16-17 dishonor, shame, dismay, humiliation, perishing 7. What is the ultimate desire of the Psalmist according to v.16b & 18 That they may seek your name, that they may know the Lord The Songs of Ascent Pss 120-135 are called ―Songs of Ascent‖. Spurgeon calls them ―the little Psalter w/in the Psalter‖ – fifteen short and very sing-able songs that cover a variety of topics. Some of them have a stair-step lyrical style, but not all. Most probably these were sung by pilgrims as they made their way to Jerusalem for the annual feasts and festivals. This is seemingly indicated by Ps 122:1-4. However, there is another theory that these songs were sung by the exiles returning with Ezra and Nehemiah. This theory finds support in Ps 126, which is about returning from captivity. It could be that these well-loved and memorable songs were sung by both annual pilgrims and the captives returning from Babylon. An Overview of the Songs of Ascents 120 Cry for relief, lamenting having dwelt among the heathen 121 The Lord is the helper of Israel who preserves His people forever 122 Going to Jerusalem and the Temple 123 Pleading for God’s mercy 124 The Lord defends Israel from her enemies 125 The Lord’s Strength for Israel 126 Joyful Return from Captivity 127 The Lord Builds the house of the righteous 128 The Lord Blesses the family of the righteous 129 God‘s victory over our enemies 130 Redemption from the Lord 131 Trusting in the Lord 132 The Lord‘s dwelling in Zion 133 Unity of God‘s people 134 Nightly worship in the sanctuary 135 God glorified in Creation and Redemption The Wonderful Imagery of the Songs of Ascents Ps 131 – A calmed and quieted soul is like a weaned child with his mother Ps 128:3-4 – The Christian family – a wife like a fruitful vine, children like olive shoots around table Ps 127:3-5 – Children like arrows in hand of warrior, whose quiver is full of them Ps 133:1-2 – Unity of believers like the precious oil running down on Aaron‘s beard Ps 126:4-6 – Captives returning compared to ―those sowing in tears later reaping with joy.‖ The Comfort of the Songs of Ascents – Ps 121 1. How does the Psalm start? What is the Psalmist doing? McClaren on v.1 ―The sense of impotence is the precursor of faith. We must distrust ourselves, if we are ever to confide in God. To know that we need His aid is a condition of obtaining it. Bewildered despondency asks, ―Whence comes my help?‖ and scans the low levels in vain. The eye that is lifted to the hills is sure to see Him coming to help. 2. What answer does he discover to his question? 3. What does he know to be true about the Lord, his keeper? Vv.2-4 4. What help does the Lord offer to the Psalmist in vv.5-8 McClaren on individual help in v.5b ―Men lose sight of the individual in the multitude, and the wider their benevolence or beneficence, the less it takes account of units; But God loves all because He loves each, and the aggregate is kept because each member of it is. The light which floods the universe gently illumines every eye. The two conceptions of defence and impartation of power are smelted together in the pregnant phrase of v. 5b ―Thy shade at thy right hand.‖ Spurgeon on Soul-keeping in v.7b: Soul keeping is the soul of keeping. If the soul be kept all is kept. The preservation of the greater includes that of the less so far as it is essential to the main design: the kernel shall be preserved, and in order thereto the shell shall be preserved also. God is the sole keeper of the soul. Our soul is kept from the dominion of sin, the infection of error, the crush of despondency, the puffing up of pride; kept from the world, the flesh, and the devil; kept for holier and greater things; kept in the love of God; kept unto the eternal kingdom and glory. What can harm a soul that is kept of the Lord? 5. In your own words, what is the main message of this Psalm? BDJ: Notice how often the Lord is mentioned here – v.2, 3a, 3b, 4a, 5a, 5b, 7a, 7b, 8a. Notice the active things that the Lord is doing – v.3a ―not allowing foot to slip‖, v.3b ―keeping you‖, v.3b ―keeping Israel‖ v.5 ―being your shade‖; v.7a ―protect you from all evil‖, v.7b ―keep your soul‖, v.8a ―guarding your going out and coming in‖ 6. What impact does this psalm have on the pilgrim through this weary land? Psalm 119 Introduction: 1. This Psalm is hard to ignore, but is often ignored by the church. When you say, ―Psalm 119‖, many believers roll their eyes. ―Oh, that L-O-N-G psalm‖. Its almost a running joke. Yet this is a beautiful, majestic and important psalm which deserves our attention. I wouldn‘t be surprised if you really love this psalm, and if you find some familiar friends hiding in its verses. 2. This is an acrostic psalm – in fact, perhaps the most monumental acrostic in the Bible. 22 stanzas, with eight poetic lines per stanza. Each stanza is a letter of the Hebrew alphabet, and each line starts with the letter of that stanza. Amazing literary accomplishment which deserve our admiration. 3. This is probably meant to be memorized – a mnemonic devise. While we snicker at this psalm, the Hebrews would roll up their sleeves to memorize it. If v. 9 is indicative, this was especially appropriate for the young man or woman to memorize early in life. 4. The word ―law‖ has a negative connotation in many minds, and is restricted to the OT books of Moses – Exodus – Deuteronomy. Some even hear ―law‖ and think ―ten commandments‖. I think the term is used more broadly and more positively here. Look at the synonyms: ―precepts… ordinances … word… commandments‖ One helpful suggestion – when you hear ―law‖ think ―word‖ or ―law-word‖. Our love for the law and interest in the law-word of God is documented in both Old and New Testaments – Ps 1:2 and James 1:25 5. We‘re going to take a different approach to this Psalm, in part because it is so very long, but also because of the nature of the Psalm itself. This is not a tightly argued logical progression ―if a, then b and if b, then c‖. This is a lyrical celebration of several important themes. So I intend to read this psalm in its entirety, which will take us 16-17 minutes. Then we‘re going to discuss some themes. I want each of you to listen for a theme or two that you hear repeatedly in the Psalm. After I‘m done reading it, I want you to tell me the theme, and maybe a particular verse where that theme is stated. Reading the Psalm… Themes: Love for the law: 16,35,47-48, 97, 127, 162, 165 Desire to obey the law: 5, 44, 145 Heart for God: 10, 11, 32, 57-58, 111 Prayer for enlightenment: 18,125,135 Redeemed in order to obey: 71,88,134 Anxieties and Suffering: 22-23, 28, 50 Frustrations with the wicked: 53,78,126,136 Value of law for believer: 72,98-100,103,127 Hatred of false ways: 104, 113, 115, 128, 163 Closing question: Why do you think the Psalmist repeats these themes at such length?
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